A federal agency has issued a directive claiming that federal contractors who perform criminal background checks may violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964, because "racial and ethnic minorities are arrested and convicted at a higher rate than whites."
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has issued Directive 306, which states that contractors who conduct background checks and exclude job seekers "based upon their criminal history may be discriminatory."
The OFCCP even states that contractors who advertise hiring positions for only applicants with "clean records" are in violation of anti-discrimination laws.
"Policies that exclude people from employment based on the mere existence of a criminal history record and that do not take into account the age and nature of an offense, for example, are likely to unjustifiably restrict the employment opportunities of individuals with conviction histories, the directive reads. "Due to racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system, such policies are likely to violate federal antidiscrimination law."
Directive 306 was issued without advance notice from the OFCCP and is effective immediately.
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